I am not happy to be writing this post. The situation saddens me on several levels, but maybe not the ones you might be expecting.
Disney albeit somewhat tardily stood up against Florida HB 1557 (the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). For a company that is in the business of communicating, they did a terrible job of explaining the motivation (or what should have been the motivation) for their opposition to the bill. So, I will tell you what I believe they should have said:
- Disney has a large and diverse workforce. Quite of few of those workers live and work in Florida and Disney’s plan is to increase those numbers over time. This bill makes it harder for Disney to attract and retain the best and the brightest to their new work locations in Florida and that makes it harder for Disney to be competitive in an exceedingly competitive market.
- Disney strongly believes that diversity is what has made the United States the world’s leading economy. Similarly, Disney’s success is based largely on a diverse and capable workforce.
- If you want Florida to continue to be a dynamic environment that draws world class companies to the state, HB 1557 has to go!
Further, had Disney dealt with this issue in a timely fashion (they had to see it coming ) rather than waiting for its employees to protest its lack of action, it might have been able to finesse the situation rather than apply blunt force in a hurried and, in retrospect, ill-conceived manner.
Governor DeSantis has decided to send Disney a very strong message for taking a stand against HB 1557. He is threatening to revoke a status that enables Disney to operate its theme parks independently of local governments — a situation that has been beneficial to all parties, including the municipalities surrounding Disney and the State of Florida.
He has let his ego get in the way of good decision-making. It is becoming clearer by the day that his decision to revoke Disney’s ability to operate within the authority of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, if successful, will have short term consequences (i.e., operating costs and debt will need to be assumed by surrounding counties) that will negatively impact the surrounding areas.
His actions will also certainly be noted by other companies that might be considering Florida as a location to do business. They will rightly wonder how stable and predictable the business environment is and likely decide against Florida. Governor DeSantis’ actions are not business friendly and that (as California seems to be now learning) is a really bad idea. Even if Governor DeSantis wins this battle, it almost certainly means he will lose the war.
It truly pains me that I must make these observations and it embarrasses me that this conflict is taking place in the state in which I now reside especially given all of the other more substantial issues that should be taking up both Governor DeSantis’s and Disney’s time.
That said, I am not taking sides here although I am definitely on one of them. I think that each of the parties has a right to their opinion. I am suggesting that if each of the parties had done their jobs, there were several places where this situation could have taken a productive turn and not left us in the predicament we are now clearly in, i.e. this probably never would have happened if both of the parties had thought through their actions, done their jobs and considered the consequences of their actions.
Copyright 2022 Howard Niden
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